Once again Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has shot off his mouth: In a newspaper interview he denied Israel's right to exist and the Holocaust, and demanded the Zionists "go back to Europe."
Ahmadinejad's remarks would pass with little more than an indifferent shrug of the shoulders, were he not the leader of a country making huge strides towards acquiring nuclear weapons.
Many Israelis try to ignore the threat of a nuclear Iran. Some treat the problem as some sort of election slogan, others shrug their shoulders and say, "There's nothing we can do about it," still others look to the international community to get involved on our behalf. But the Iranian reality no longer allows us the luxury of ignoring it.
In the winter of 2005, unlike the previous couple of years, Tehran is ruled by a handful of fanatic, extreme Muslim revolutionaries. The current president lacks the popular legitimacy of his predecessor. He was "elected" after all his political opponents were disqualified from running for office by the Supreme Guardian Council.
He holds basic, extreme anti-Semitic opinions, as he has expressed in recent days and weeks. The process of democratizing Iran's civilian life has come to a complete halt, domestic religious terrorism has returned, the various arms of the secret police are out of control and infighting amongst senior officials prevents manning of services and decision-making.
In this situation, the ruling clique is trying to solidify its hated authority by speeding up the nuclear program, presenting it as a "fight for nukes," a War of Independence against the enemy West that serves the Zionists.
Particularly worrying at the moment, Tehran's reign of terror has a practically unlimited budget, as a result of an expected hike in oil prices.
Is Israel being paranoid when it talks about the clear and immediate danger of a nuclear Iran? The answer to that question was provided this week by Dr. Mohamed Elbaradei, the head of the U.N. International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
"When Iran restarts enriching uranium, it will be just a few months away from a nuclear weapon," he said.
Now, Mohamed Elbaradei is a studied, reliable man, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate who said on the eve of the Iraq war that Saddam Hussein had no nuclear weapons. His assessment of the Iranian threat matches that of Israel's intelligence community. Iran is close to becoming a Middle Eastern nuclear power, ruled by a tyrannical group of religious fanatics and anti-Semites.
Burying our heads
What can be done to derail the threat? Elbaradei, like many others in the West, recommends restraint. That's to be expected from the head of an international organization, but it is a threat to us, and to the entire region.
The clique that holds power in Tehran has an interest in anesthetizing world opinion in the short term, for a few months, in order to use this time to complete the process of enriching uranium. After that occurs, there will be no way from preventing Iran from reaching the finish line in its race for nuclear weapons.
Another option would be to bring the issue to the U.N. Security Council, which could then impose far reaching political and economic sanctions on Iran.
But that discussion is unlikely to take place at the U.N. any time soon. Many countries have already ruled out such sanctions because they view Iran as an important export market and an important supplier of oil.
Most Western diplomats speak about continued negotiations with the "Iranian government," and refuse to realize that it is no longer the same reform-minded country it has been in recent years. They would rather bury their heads in the oil-soaked sand.
Therefore, I am pessimistic: Diplomacy with regard to Iran's nuclear program will not work until the regime there changes. Israel will have no choice but to take military action in order to prevent this nightmare from coming true – a radical Islamic country armed with nuclear weapons.
Bombing Iran's nuclear facilities from the air is both impractical and undesirable, but there are countless other options available, ways that would leave a trail and ways that wouldn't; for instance, assassinate the main links in the supply and production chains.
Israel must thwart Iran's nuclear drive, and soon. It is a reality we must not resign ourselves to. Talk of a new "nuclear balance of terror" in the Middle East is nonsense: Iran of 2005 is a violent Islamo-Fascist country, headed by a man who calls openly for the annihilation of the Jewish state. And we have more than enough experience will similarly-minded people.
Never before has a country dedicated to the destruction of another country successfully managed to get its hands on nuclear weapons. It never has, and it never will.